FirstMerit to give $30,000 grant for Detroit homebuyers

Money can also be used for renovations

Akron, Ohio-based FirstMerit Corp. has begun a down payment assistance program for homebuyers in the city of Detroit in partnership with the Detroit Land Bank Authority.

FirstMerit (Nasdaq: FMER) will grant up to $30,000 for down payments or renovations to qualified applicants buying or fixing up homes purchased from the land bank, which will help bridge the difference between the value of the home and total acquisition cost.

The land bank is a public entity that acquires and manages vacant and abandoned properties.

“FirstMerit sees the purchase and renovation of these homes as an investment in the city of Detroit,” Sandy Pierce, vice chairman of FirstMerit Corp. and chairman and CEO of FirstMerit Michigan, said in a news release. “For those homebuyers who qualify for our down payment assistance program and stay in the home for five years, this debt will be forgiven. We want to encourage long-term commitment to our Detroit neighborhoods.”

“The Detroit Land Bank is thrilled to partner with FirstMerit on a homebuyer assistance program,” said Erica Ward Gerson, chair of the Detroit Land Bank Authority. “So many people would love to buy and renovate these great houses in Detroit, if only they had some help with the down payment, or a little help with the renovation costs. Removing these hurdles will help rebuild Detroit neighborhoods, and make homeownership a reality.”

FirstMerit is also teaming with National Faith HomeBuyers to provide individuals and families home buying counseling and financial education resources.

Program participants are required to complete a financial literacy course that FirstMerit will pay for.

Interested parties can contact the FirstMerit branch in Detroit at 3663 Woodward Ave. or call (313) 494-3285.

FirstMerit had assets of about $25.3 billion as of June 30 and 367 offices in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Pennsylvania.